Reflecting on the Past

In biblical categories of time, an important distinction is made between chronos and kairos. This distinction carries within it the assumption that individual moments can have a dynamic impact on a whole life. The New Testament distinctive is like this: chronos refers to the normal linear passing of time; moment by moment, day by day, year by year. Kairos refers to a specific moment within time that is of crucial significance. It is the moment that gives lasting significance to history. Examples of kairotic moments in the Bible would be the exodus, the anointing of Saul, the exile, the birth of Jesus, and the cross.

Perhaps the closest thing we have to this distinction is the words historical and historic. Every event that takes place in June is historical, but not every event is historic. Historic events change the course of history and become the cause of future celebration, mourning, or memorial. The signing of the Declaration of Independence was historic, as were the first human steps on the moon.

Within our private individual lives, there are also historic moments, special events that shape and mold our personalities and the direction of our energies. Each of us has fruitful moments in our lives. What we want the most from life will often be “meshed” or “disguised” beneath the veneer of our nostalgic memories. If we delve more deeply in these memories, we can discover a great deal about who we are. Reflections on things of the past you might prefer to forget may provoke feelings of guilt and/or fear. Yet we must live with our past.

The historic in our lives defines our history. There is a real sense in which we are our history. I cannot disassociate my identity from the past. Even if I become a “new person” in Christ, I still carry the “old man” around with me until I die.


Coram Deo

What feelings emerge when you reflect on your past? Are there unresolved issues you need to resolve?

Passages for Further Study

Psalm 30:1–3

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